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Fifteen months after swallowing hard and writing off $8.98 million invested in Aria Wireless Systems Inc., Comptek Research Inc. is rolling.

The West Seneca-based defense electronics firm:

Just recorded its fifth consecutive profitable quarter.

Projects sales for Fiscal Year 1998 will increase 12 percent to 15 percent, easily reaching the mid-$80 million range.

Expects sales by the turn of the century to be in the $150 million to $200 million range.

Is holding acquisition talks with smaller, privately held, defense-related firms that could push combined revenues well beyond 1997's record of $76.5 million very quickly.

"Comptek has firmly re-established itself as a successful defense electronics company," John J. Sciuto, Comptek's chairman, president and chief executive officer, said at the firm's annual meeting Friday.

The year that ended on March 31 was a record one for Comptek, as sales jumped 39 percent to $76.5 million from $55.2 million, operating profit jumped 353 percent to $4.22 million from $931,000, and net income totaled $2.17 million compared to an $8.55 million loss the year before.

"The sales growth in 1997 was fueled by both contributions from last year's acquisition of Advanced Systems Development Inc., and 15 percent growth from our traditional core businesses," Sciuto said.

The strong showing continued into the new fiscal year's first quarter, with operating profits up 26.1 percent to $1.04 million and net income up 44.1 percent to $565,000. Sales rose 2.8 percent to $18.51 million.

Sciuto told the annual meeting audience Comptek's stock price has begun reflecting the investment community's restored confidence in the firm. Within the year, the price per common share has risen from $4.87 to more than $8 per share.

Last year, Comptek put its strategic plan, Vision 2000, on paper. It looks to leverage internal growth off past performance, and to grow externally through making acquisitions.

"A critical element of our growth is meging with smaller, defense-related firms," Sciuto said. "Only companies which will provide an immediate positive impact to our financial performance are being considered."

The obvious example of a strategic purchase is ASDI. Comptek paid roughly $11.2 million in stock, cash and assumed debt for the New York City simulator maker, which had sales of about $14 million.

ASDI substantially opened foreign military markets to Comptek, something Sciuto said the firm will capitalize on going forward.

Speaking following the annual meeting, Sciuto said Comptek is holding acquisition talks with a couple of privately held firms that he described as market leaders in the high-technology, smart weapons systems industry. They don't produce bullets and bombs, but the equipment needed in the smart weapons field.

"I've been working with these companies probably for four years," Sciuto said. The firms are located around the country.

Sciuto also assured shareholders that Comptek at some unspecified future point would again begin paying a stock dividend. The dividend was suspended in late 1993 to free up more cash for product development.

At the annual meeting, shareholders by proxy easily re-elected three Comptek directors -- Sciuto; James D. Morgan, Comptek's chief scientist and one of the firm's co-founders, and Henry P. Semmelheck, president, chief executive and chairman of Barrister Information Systems Corp. and another Comptek co-founder.

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